Album #192: Pink Siifu – Negro

  • Released: 2020
  • Origin: Birmingham, Alabama, USA
  • Label: Field-Left
  • Best Track: Not sure. Kind of not applicable.

I’ve heard it said that part of the reason why punk declined in popularity as the ’80s went on is that rap started to become more punk than punk. The second album from hip-hop/rapper Pink Siifu seems to prove that point – it is, for me, definitely a punk album.

Powerful and poignant, Negro was released a month before the death of George Floyd, and drives home the point that that incident was unfortunately something that had happened before and was bound to happen again sooner rather than later. It’s a sad reality that often slips the conscience of fairly comfortable white Brits like me, and the record takes us through a chilling and uncomfortable ride through Black America.

This is not so much rap as spoken (or rather shouted, bellowed, amplified) word, peppered with sound clips like wailing sirens and walkie-talkies. It clashes head on with the police and white privilege with an experimental noisiness more reminiscent of the likes of Swans and Throbbing Gristle than anything. For that reason, I haven’t chosen a best track, as I think it’s meant to be listened to as a full body of work and there’s not much on here that would work if listened to in isolation from the tracks around it. Only on final track ‘Black Be Tha God, NEGRO’ do we hear anything that might resemble what we think of as ‘rapping’.

Not my favourite album of the year, but perhaps the most important I’ve listened to, and one that might increasingly become seen as pre-emptive and, though it shouldn’t be, necessary.

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